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The Spy

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  25,663 ratings  ·  2,639 reviews
When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless.

Soon she was feted as the most elegant woman in the city.

A dancer who shocked and delighted audiences; a confidant and courtesan who bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.

But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. Until, in 1917 she was arrested in her hotel roo
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Hutchinson (first published 2016)
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Aijazz Its a historical fiction, to be precise. Even though most of the history handed down to us is also prejudicial but the authors do not say so; Paulo…moreIts a historical fiction, to be precise. Even though most of the history handed down to us is also prejudicial but the authors do not say so; Paulo admits it to be a real life story of Mata Hari garnished with his magical way of writing(less)
Koushiki Chowdhury Honestly even i was not fully engaged in the beginning.. it was becoming very confusing and monotonous but I didn't stop. And I absolutely loved the…moreHonestly even i was not fully engaged in the beginning.. it was becoming very confusing and monotonous but I didn't stop. And I absolutely loved the ending portion.. how it leaves you in a questionable position is really good.
This book didn't have the Paulo Coehlo factor in ample amount but still there are some beautiful things about life in it.
I finished it just yesterday and I do not at all regret it. It is worth your patience and read atleast for once.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.33  · 
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 ·  25,663 ratings  ·  2,639 reviews

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Tonstant Weader
Mata Hari really deserves better than she has been getting in the literary department. First there was Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran that made her inexplicably obtuse and naive considering her accomplishments. Now Paulo Coelho gives us The Spy which seems to be nothing more than a contrivance for some New Age aphorisms. He sees her as someone who was an emancipated woman, that freedom was her crime, but ignores the reality that made her “free”.

The real Mata Hari is more interesting. M
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I am a woman who was born at the wrong time and nothing can be done to fix this. I don’t know if the future will remember me, but if it does, may it never see me as a victim, but as someone who moved forward with courage, fearlessly paying the price she had to pay.”

I picked this one up randomly at the library at the very last second, after spending over half an hour looking for the perfect read. And I’m pleased to say that Paulo Coelho impressed me and then some.

The Spy has brilliant starting
Heidi The Reader
The Spy is the story of Mata Hari, told first in her voice and then from the point of view of one of her male admirers.

Paulo Coelho isn't at his best in this novel.

He prefers and excels at metaphorical stories. For example, in this tale, Coelho has Mata Hari comparing herself to the nightingale that impaled itself on a thorn to grow a bright red rose for a young man in love.

I get what he was reaching for- but I think this tale would have been told better through details rather than metaphors.

Kevin Kuhn
Believe it or not, I might be one of the few people on the planet who have not yet read “The Alchemist”. It is certainly on my list, and I’ve heard many people list it as their favorite book and has changed their life. Due to this and a little knowledge of Mata Hari (just recalling she was an exotic dancer found to be a spy during World War I), when I saw “The Spy” at the bookstore, I picked it up. Besides the cover is captivating, with an old black and white head shot of Mata Hari overlaid on a ...more

Mata Hari...was she a spy or wasn't she? Did she serve as a double agent for Germany and France throughout World War I or did a malicious allegation with zero evidence destroy her life? In this re-imagining based on nonfiction accounts, author Paulo Coelho says no. Her only crime was her choice to be an independent woman, exposing the world to feminism for the very first time, and for that she lost her life by firing squad.

As Mata Hari waited for execution, one of her last requests was for a pe
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book reminds me that I shouldn't read historical fiction novels that are based on specific people, rather than a general time period. I'm too critical, and no doubt I expect too much from authors who are brave enough to take on the daunting task of getting inside another person's mind.

I'm of the belief that if you dare to feel that you have the insight into someone else's inner workings and what makes them tick, you better make damn sure that your instinct of human nature is sharp and on po
“Death is nothing, nor life either, for that matter. To die, to sleep, to pass into nothingness, what does it matter? Everything is an illusion.”

----Mata Hari

Paulo Coelho, the international bestselling author, pens a gripping and part fictional tale on the life of a legendary dancer cum falsely accused as a spy, Mata Hari in his new novel, The Spy that opens with the execution of this exotic and talented dancer by the French, but then the author spins a riveting autobiographical account of th
Jill McGill
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Margaretha Zelle, aka Mata Hari, was a famous "exotic" dancer who shocked and dazzled audiences; as a prostitute, she entertained the most richest and powerful men.

But unfortunately this lifestyle also brought her under suspicion. In 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in Paris, and accused of espionage. She then was put on trial and executed for treason, and in all likelihood was innocent.

Mata Hari would be considered a feminist hero in today's world, a wo
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Finally a solid read! This one was short enough where I started this morning and was able to finish it this afternoon. Fascinating story of Mata Hari. Basically, the woman was executed for being considered a double agent but on such flimsy evidence that her execution was seemingly to save the asses and protect the reputation of the powerful men she slept with. A woman that once again rang that tired old bell "I was born at the wrong time." When will it ever be the right time for women to be born ...more
Fiona MacDonald
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Utterly heartbreaking story. Wonderfully told (Paulo Coelho is a master of the written word) and just so incredibly sad to read. Mata Hari's voice speaks through the pages eloquently, passionately and sensually. I really enjoyed this... no, in fact I loved it. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is interested in Mata Hari's life.
Kelsie O'Driscoll
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
After picking up this book, I did some research on Mata Hari before reading the book. Obviously, the book cannot compare to the events that transpired in her life, but I believe Paulo Coelho gave this woman a voice that was condemned by a rigorous society. You can immediately tell that this is a work by Coelho because of his use of metaphors and prose, but it is a delightful read that I, personally, needed at the moment. Instead of picking up a self-help book (no shame in that, I do too!), I hig ...more
I was disappointed in this book considering that the Brazilian author is Paulo Coelho, which is why I wanted to read it. My knowledge of the dancer and famous spy, Mati Hari, is still scarce after reading the book. I felt that the author "phoned it in" and it felt superficial and thin. Mati Hari was a Dutch exotic dancer and mistress to powerful men (both French and German) who was convicted of being a spy for the Germans in World War 1. She was found guilty and shot to death by a firing squad ...more
Erin Clemence
This review is for the audio version of “The Spy” written by Paulo Coelho, narrated by Hillary Huber and Paul Boehmer, and published by Random House Audio.

I continue to read Paulo Coelho books thinking I’ll like them. I choose them because they are so small and therefore I assume they will be easy to read. I also choose them because I hear nothing but good things about Mr. Coelho, especially about how his novels are poignant, well-loved and world-renowned. This exact trap suckered me in whe
Louise Wilson
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mata Hari was penniless when she arrived in Paris. Soon she is one of the most elegant women in the city.

Paranoia consumed a country at war and Mata Hari's lifestyle comes under suspicion. in 1917 she was arrested and accused of espionage.

The book is told from Mata Hari's final letter. A woman who dared to break the conventions of her time and paid the price for it. Even facing the firing squad she never lost her dignity.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone and the autho
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

My goal for 2017: Read all of his books.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With this quick evening read, I acquaint myself with Paulo Coelho.

Coelho being one of the most popular authors alive and his books selling in millions, I was a bit skeptical while approaching this book. But all the skepticism evaporated as soon as I began reading the first chapter. All popular books needn't necessarily be bad! Lesson learnt.

Clear prose with interwoven philosophies dictates the life of Mata Hari - who turns out not to be a spy at all but a rather free-spirited woman born a cent
Raghdaa Morad
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
2.5 ⭐ this book was a big disappointment I think i had enough of Coelho writings. ...more
“The greatest crime i committed was being an emancipated and independent woman in a world ruled by men .”

Mata Hari... traitorous spy, or a victim of male bias ? In this summarized portrayal of this enigmatic woman, we follow the life of Margaretha Zelle an exotic dancer accused of espionage for Germany during World War I. Altough I didn't enjoy this as much as the Alchemist, for me it was a little dry and disjointed. However I still tought it was an enjoyable and worth it read.
Bree Hill
This book was INCREDIBLE. My only con was that at certain moments things will get mentioned and you are left with unanswered questions. The author only tells you so much but you get so invested in what is going on you don't want to have to fill in the blanks! Other than that I loved it. There are less than ten pages in this 180ish book that I DIDNT highlight something on.
So many beautifully written passages.
Upon hearing the name Mata Hari the first thing that comes to mind is the Greta Garbo character in the 1931 movie of the same name. Mata Hari - exotic dancer, courtesan, cunning woman who used her feminine wiles to seduce powerful men and obtain secrets for the enemy. But was she really a spy for the Germans? In Paulo Coehlo’s latest novel, The Spy, Mata Hari is given much better treatment. Some reviews have even deemed it hagiographic. Gone is the villain seductress and in her place is a libera ...more
”The crimes I did commit, I escaped, the greatest of which was being an emancipated and independent women in a world ruled by men.”

***This book review is dedicated to my hurricane ass-kicking friend Emer, whose love for Paulo Coelho knows no bounds and sent Hurricane Ophelia running like a banshee.***
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Synopsis: Having spent all of his time saving Hawkins, Indiana, Steve Harrington completely forgot to write his history report about Mata Hari due the next week and turns in this sorry excuse of
Peter Monn
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great read! Check out my full review on my booktube channel at
Fuad Al Fidah
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the benefit of translation, one day is enough to finish the whole book :)
Chris Dietzel
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this, as I enjoy everything Coelho writes, but I wasn't drawn in as much as I was with some of his other books. For me, Coelho is at his best when the entire story is a fable that teaches about the hidden paths in life (The Alchemist, The Zahir). This one had a little bit of that but was much more focused on historical fiction. It was neat to see the author approach that genre, though.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 STARS.
Now this, this is a feminist type read I can get behind. Based on true events and a very much real woman (who I am most definitely going to be researching further), this was an incredible read about a woman who did what she wanted with her body and strived for a different life and was essential executed because of it. It's more complicated than that, and this is from her letter in jail, but I was intrigued and enlightened and would highly recommend this.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Margaretha Zelle, aka, Mata Hari. She was abused as a girl by her teacher and then as a young wife by her much older and jealous husband. After suffering the loss of her infant son, she left her home and young daughter to seek fame. By trade she was an exotic dancer and a courtesan. She also was an accused spy during WWI who was tried and executed in front of a firing squad. This tale is told from her point of view, through letters. She was fluent in multiple languages and t ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an ok book... nothing exciting or thrilling about it and it times I had to push myself to read on. I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. If you wanted to read about Mata Hari I'm sure you could find something else out there with a bit more entertainment to it.
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was fortunate to read "Mata Hari: The Controversial Life and Legacy of World War I's Most Famous Spy" by Charles River Editors, a title almost as long as the book. It gave me a thorough review of a woman everyone feels they know.
I was therefore excited to get the chance to read "the Spy by the accomplished author Paulo Coelho. I was delighted with this book that seeks to tell the story from Mata Hari's point of view and later with an apology from her counsel. It is clear that even all these y
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
Aye carumba,how can a subject so fascinating be written in the style of an amateurish travel brochure. Such a huge disappointment. The only upside to this experience is that it has spurred me on to learn more about this fascinating woman.
This book was amazing. So, sad too. The execution by firing squad in 1917 I think. She was used by powerful men and that was part of the cause why she was executed.
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The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow in ...more
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